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Migration Assistant and the MacBook 12″

The MacBook 12″ is a truly elegant computer: it’s ridiculously thin and weighs only two pounds, and has a beautiful screen. It’s underpowered in most other regards — it has one lonely USB-C port for both power and devices, and is generally kinda pokey — but if you want the ultimate portable Mac, it’s that.

If you’re setting up a new one, and want to use Migration Assistant (the option during setup that makes it easy to copy everything from an old Mac), you’re gonna face some challenges, because the MacBook 12″ doesn’t have Thunderbolt. Even if you have a USB 3 C-to-A cable, the older Mac only will offer Target Disk Mode over Thunderbolt, not its USB port.

So, here are the options available for Migration Assistant with your new MacBook:

  • The easiest solution is to back up the old Mac with Time Machine to a USB external drive. (If you’ve already got a Time Machine backup drive, good job! Just plug it in and choose “Back Up Now” from the Time Machine menu at the top of the screen to make it current.) You can then plug this drive into the MacBook and use Migration Assistant with it. If price matters, external hard drives are cheap. If speed matters, then you want an external solid state drive.
  • If you have a Time Capsule backup, you can use Migration Assistant with that instead. Be warned that it might take a LONG time (hours or days) if you’re doing it over Wi-Fi.

Or, if you are a power user, you have an option to bypass Migration Assistant entirely, provided your old Mac is running the latest operating system (currently macOS Sierra 10.12.3), and is a 2012 or later model (that is, it has USB 3). Put the new MacBook into Target Disk Mode, and attach it to your old Mac with a USB 3 C-to-A cable. From the old Mac, erase the drive of the MacBook using Disk Utility, then use Carbon Copy Cloner to copy the entirety of the old Mac to the MacBook. (If the old Mac isn’t up to date, you can still clone it, but the MacBook won’t start; you can fix this by creating a Sierra boot disk on the old Mac, and boot the MacBook from that so you can upgrade its operating system.)


How I organize apps on my iPhone

I’ve got a ton of apps on my iPhone, and even though I don’t need most of them all that often, some I need all the time. Everyone’s going to have a different approach to how they organize their iPhone, but I thought I’d share mine, in case it offers any ideas.

It all comes down to priority. The single most important apps — the ones I need to get to all the time, no matter what — occupy the bottom four spots, which are available on every screen. For me, these are Phone, Mail, Safari, and Settings.

(Settings is not going to be an obvious choice for most. I need to get in there regularly, though, because it’s where the options for Personal Hotspot, VPN, and Low Power Mode are found, and I enable each of those all the time.)

I have only three screens of apps on my iPhone. That’s all I can handle. But I use lots of folders.

The first screen — the one you can get back to by pressing the home button if you’re on another screen — has my everyday apps that I want to get to quickly. Most of my daily communications apps are here, such as Messages, WhatsApp, Skype, and Line2. I take taxis all the time, so I also have Curb and Arro, which let me set up payment before the ride concludes. Other key apps are Clock, Wallet (need to be able to get to that boarding pass quickly), and Camera.

Then come folders. Some people prefer themed screens of icons, but that’s not how I roll. Creating a folder is easy — you just rest your finger on any app to put the screen into “wiggle mode,” then you drag one app on top of another. A folder will be created, and you can give it an appropriate name. Apps can be added that folder it the same way — drag an app on top of it while in wiggle mode. And folders can contain multiple screens themselves, so you can put as much as you want in there; I prioritize the more important apps on the first folder screen. (You can’t put a folder inside another folder.)

My most important folders go into the remaining spots on my first screen, and the rest go onto the second and third screens. What goes into a folder is subjective, of course. I like to collect all of my less-used apps that come with the iPhone in their own folder; then I have folders for apps related to Movies, Music, New York City, Travel, Food, Social Media, and more. There’s no right or wrong way to do this — I just do what makes sense to me, so I can spend as little time opening an app as possible.

My third screen contains a few less important folders that didn’t fit on the second screen, and also serves as a holding area for apps I have recently downloaded and want to check out, or haven’t yet put into a folder. So, it contains a small hodgepodge that I periodically go through, and either delete apps, or put them in folders. Or I just leave them there, if I don’t feel like thinking about it.

Of course, I always have the options of searching for an app with Spotlight, if I can’t remember where I put it. But I think that’s clumsy and slow, and they way I’ve got things set up, I rarely have to do it!

4 Cool Features from the New Apple OS Updates

Apple just released new versions of iOS, watchOS, and macOS (as well tvOS) including plugging security holes and adding a few new features. Here are four cool things you can do once you’ve updated.


Night Shift: Use your Mac at Night and Sleep Better Afterwards

MacOS 10.12.4 Sierra now has Night Shift, a feature from iOS that automatically shifts the colors of the screen to the warmer end of the spectrum after dark. Night Shift may help you sleep better by reducing the amount of blue light that tricks your body into thinking it’s earlier than it is.

To set up Night Shift:

  1. Open System Preferences > Displays > Night Shift
  2. Choose Sunset to Sunrise from the Schedule pop-up menu

You can either use the Mac’s built-in knowledge of sunset time where you are, or you can set it for a specific time.

Note that older Macs may not be able to support Night Shift.


Find Lost AirPods

Apple’s wireless AirPods earbuds are so small that they’re easy to lose. If you can’t find yours, iOS 10.3’s Find My iPhone app can help. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Find My iPhone app
  2. Tap the AirPods icon
  3. Tap the Play Sound button to make them play a locator sound

If you’ve lost only one AirPod, you can mute the other so it’s easier to hear where the sound is coming from.

Unfortunately Find My AirPods only works if the missing AirPod is in range of your paired iPhone…no good if you’re at home and your missing AirPod is at work…


Quickly Turn Off The Apple Watch Screen at the Movies

If you wear an Apple Watch, it’s probably annoying (to you and to others around you) when you’re at the movies and you grab for some popcorn and your Apple Watch light goes on!

Well now there’s Theater Mode for the Apple Watch, which keeps the screen dark and puts it into Silent mode. Here’s how to enable it.

  1. Open Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of the screen
  2. Tap the Theater Mode button (the masks)
  3. After the performance, disable Theater mode manually by tapping the button again

If you do need to check the time during the movie, tap your Apple Watch’s screen, or press the Digital Crown or side button.


Find Your Car in a Parking Lot

Perhaps less pertinent to us New Yorkers, but still valuable —

In iOS 10.3, you can now search for “parked car” in Maps, or just ask Siri, “Where did I park?”



Use a Time Capsule without attaching it to a router


Every now and then, you need to back up to a Time Capsule, but you don’t have access to the router, or a wired network jack. You’ve got to go 100% wireless. I discovered a way to set it up 100% wirelessly, with no cables attached.

You’ll need:

To install AirPort Utility v5.6.1:

  • Download the Launcher (there are three download options; choose the leftmost one)
  • Open your Utilities folder within your Application folder
  • In the resulting window, drag each item (AirPort Utility 5.6.1, and the Launcher) one at a time to your Utilities folder. You may need to enter your computer password.

If you’ve never set up your Time Capsule before, use AirPort Utility (6.x, which has been included with macOS since 10.7 Lion), in the Utilities folder inside your Applications folder. Click the “Other Wi-Fi Devices” button in the upper left of the window, and choose your new Time Capsule.

AirPort Utility will scan your network for a while. When it’s done, if it does not say “This AirPort will create a network”, then click “Other Options” in the lower left of the window, and select “Create a new network.” Click Next.

Set up the Time Capsule using any temporary network name and password (but not your actual one). Click Next when it warns you that there’s no cable attached. Quit AirPort Utility when it’s done.

Now, join your new temporary network from the AirPort menu on your computer. (You won’t have internet access once you do.)

Open AirPort Utility 5.6.1 Launcher from your Utilities folder. (Or, if you’re still on Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, or 10.8 Mountain Lion, you can open AirPort Utility 5.6.1 directly, without the Launcher.) The first time you do this, you’ll probably get an Unidentified Developer warning. To bypass this, control-click on it, choose “Open”, and then “Open” again.

You’ll probably get notified that there’s a newer version of AirPort Utility. Cancel this. (If you don’t want to be hassled about it in the future, go to Preferences from the AirPort Utility menu, and uncheck all the boxes.)

If you’re using an 802.11ac Time Capsule (tall shape, rather than flat shape), you’ll be warned that the version of AirPort Utility you’re using is incompatible. Ignore this, and click “Continue”.

Select your Time Capsule on the left, and click Manual Setup at the bottom. If you get asked for Keychain permission, click Allow (and do this for any subsequent steps if you get asked). Click the Wireless tab.

Here’s the tricky part: hold down the Option key on your keyboard, then click the menu next to “Wireless Mode”. Choose “Join a Wireless Network”.

Choose your regular network under “Wireless Network Name”, and the password should automatically be filled in. Click Update.

Your Time Capsule will restart. Switch back to your regular WiFi network. Quit AirPort Utility.

Once the Time Capsule done restarting, you’ll be able to select it as a backup disk in the Time Capsule system preference (Apple Menu -> System Preferences -> Time Machine -> Select Backup Disk), as described in this Apple Support article.

You can also now maintain your Time Capsule using AirPort Utility 6.x, as you would normally. You only need version 5.6.1 to be able to get the Time Capsule into “Join a Wireless Network” mode; once it’s there, the current version of AirPort Utility works fine.

You can also use AirPort Utility 5.6.1, and the same method above, if you wish to create a WDS (Wireless Distribution System). This is not an option for the 802.11ac (tall shape) AirPort and Time Capsule; those only offer the “Extend a Wireless Network” option, which is much easier, but does not permit chaining WiFi devices.

AirPort Utility 5.6.1 is also useful for not permitting computers and devices to use an AirPort’s wireless network. This can be useful if you set up an AirPort Express to wirelessly extend a network for AirPlay wireless audio, in a home that is otherwise well covered by 802.11ac AirPorts. The Express only offers 802.11n, so you may want devices to use the other AirPorts instead. I may put up a separate post on this later.

1Password is a good password manager if you’re anxious about hacking

I think password managers are an extremely good idea, second only to backup. To have reasonable security, you really need to have a different password on every account, so that the keys to the castle aren’t given away if a single site gets compromised. And ideally each password should be as much of a scrambled mishmash as possible.

This means we need to get out of the business of memorizing passwords, and instead start using password manager software, which can store all of your passwords, and even fill them in for you, in a central place, with you only having to remember the single master password. The master password is a key; without it, none of the other passwords are accessible.

There are many password manager titles available, of which some of the most widely used are 1Password, LastPass, and Dashlane. We like 1Password (though we don’t have enough experience with the others to have a strong opinion about them, other than that they’re all reputable).

One of the reasons we like 1Password is their security model. If you want to just use it on a single device or computer, then your passwords are never stored on any kind of server — they just sit, encrypted, in a single file (called a vault) on your computer.

If you want to synchronize your passwords across devices, 1Password offers several options: storing your vault on iCloud, or on Dropbox. This means both your iCloud or Dropbox account would have to be compromised, and then your 1Password vault within would have to be hacked. But if you’re truly worried about your passwords being in any kind of cloud, 1Password can sync directly from computer to devices on your own local network.

In addition, because some people found the above methods to be challenging to set up, 1Password now offers synchronization via, where they do store your passwords, though only in encrypted form — the unencrypted passwords are never sent to them. (They swear up and down that this is secure, and I believe them, but I still like it a little bit less because it makes them such an obvious target for hackers, like LastPass was.)

1Password is primarily sold as a subscription service now. However, it’s also, for the time being, available as a one-time purchase. Synchronizing via (rather than iCloud, Dropbox, or local network) is only available when subscribing.


Mac Target Disk Mode now includes USB, hooray

Target Disk Mode has long been one of the Mac’s unique capabilities — it allows you to bypass the operating system entirely and access the internal drive directly, as though it were an external drive. This makes it easy to migrate data from one computer to another, perform disk repairs, or retrieve data from a Mac with a damaged operating system.

To activate Target Disk Mode, you hold down the T key immediately after you turn on your Mac, before the Apple logo appears in the center of the screen.

Target Disk Mode has only been available for Macs with Thunderbolt or FireWire (and, for you old-timers, PowerBook SCSI). This has meant that models which only offer USB connections, such as the 2008-2009 MacBook Air and MacBook, don’t offer Target Disk Mode.

That’s been fixed. The  MacBook 12″ does not offer Thunderbolt (and, by extension, FireWire), but Target Disk Mode is available over USB. The 2016 MacBook Pro also offers Target Disk Mode over USB, in addition to Thunderbolt and FireWire (though the latter requires two adapters).


Target Disk Mode over USB only works when connected via USB 3, so it can only be used with 2012 and later Macs (despite Apple’s support article erroneously suggesting older models, by stating “any Mac”). Nor can Target Disk Mode be used with Apple’s USB-C charge cable, which is a USB 2 cable when used for data.

So, to use Target Disk Mode over USB, you can use:

  • a USB 3 C-to-A cable if connecting to a Mac with USB-A ports (most Macs)
  • a USB 3 C-to-C cable if connecting to a Mac with USB-C ports (MacBook 12″, 2016 MacBook Pro)

But if you’ve got a 2016 MacBook Pro and are connecting to a Mac that has a Thunderbolt port (i.e any Mac from 2011 or later, except for the MacBook 12″), it’s easier and potentially faster to use Thunderbolt, using the Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter and a Thunderbolt 2 cable, or, if you’re connecting two 2016 MacBook Pros, a ThunderBolt 3 cable (which can also operate as a USB 3 C-to-C cable).

So, great — we can do something with our Macs that I wish we could have had long ago.

Image of G3 iMac from Wikipedia’s page on Target Disk Mode.

Turning off double-sided printing by default on a Mac

Sometimes, you get a new printer with a duplex feature, and your Mac, for whatever reason, decides that it should print on both sides of the page by default. (I think this is a problem with the HP printer driver installer, actually.)

Fixing this is doable, but…not obvious. At all. Here’s what you do:

  1. In the Finder, click the “Go” menu (four over from the Apple menu)
  2. Choose Utilities
  3. In there, open Terminal
  4. At the prompt, type “sudo cupsctl WebInterface=yes” and press return (without the quotes)
  5. Type your computer password (you won’t see it as you type) and press return
  6. Terminal should simply respond with a prompt like the first prompt, and nothing else. Quit Terminal.
  7. In Safari or another browser, go to http://localhost:631
  8. You should see a screen titled “CUPS”. Click the “Printers” tab. (If you get asked for a password, use your computer user’s short user name, and your usual computer password. If you don’t have the short user name, see this Apple Support article.)
  9. Click your printer in the “Queue Name” column
  10. In the rightmost of the two dropdowns, choose “Set Default Options”
  11. I don’t know exactly what options you’ll see next, but one of them should pertain to 2-sided printing. Set it to “Off”.
  12. Click the “Set Default Options” button.
  13. You’re done; you can close the browser window.

H/T to the helpful people in this Apple Support thread.

Photo by tom_bullock, courtesy Flickr Creative Commons.

Backing up a locked iPhone or iPad with a dead screen

If you’ve got an iPhone or iPod with a dead screen, that’s not so awesome, but usually it can be repaired without replacing the whole device. But…not always. You want to be on the safe side and make sure there’s a backup, ideally on a computer, before the device is repaired (or replaced).

To check if there’s a current iCloud backup: If you have another Apple device also signed in to the same iCloud account, tap Settings > iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage, and then the backups are listed at the top, and tapping into them reveals the most recent date. If it’s less than 24 hours, I usually consider that good enough.

To check iCloud backups on a Mac, go to Apple Menu > System Preferences > iCloud, tap the Manage button, tap backups, and you can see your backups. If you’re not already signed in, you can do so in the iCloud system preference, or create a new user just for this single purpose in the Users & Groups system preference.

If you don’t have a current iCloud backup, or you want to be extra careful, you can back up to iTunes on a computer. But…your iPhone or iPad is locked. To unlock it, to be able to back up to iTunes on a computer, you’ll need:

Plug the “camera adapter” into the device, and into that connect the USB hub. Then attach the USB hub to wall power. Plug in both the keyboard and the Lightning cable that attaches to the computer.

You’ll be able to type the passcode to unlock the device, and then on the computer, open iTunes, click on the icon for the device, and then click “Back Up.” (If you instead choose “Encrypt backup,” it will save passwords, so I recommend that; use your computer password, when prompted, to keep things simple, and save it in your keychain.)

Now you can go get the dumb thing fixed.

Photo by Warren R.M. Stuart, through Flickr Creative Commons.

You can’t use a MacBook’s charge cable with a MacBook Pro. Seriously.

So, I stumbled across an Apple Support article about which power adapters to use with which computer. The rule of thumb, since the mid-90’s, is that more demanding models come with  adapters that provide more power: MacBook Air (45W), MacBook Pro 13″ (60W), MacBook Pro 15″ (85W). It’s labeled on the brick part. It’s safe to use a larger adapter than the one the computer came with, but not the other way around.

Well, the same story is true for the new models with USB-C charging ports: MacBook (29W), MacBook Pro 13″ (61W), and MacBook Pro 15″ (87W). As before, you can’t use a brick smaller than the one the computer came with. New connector, same rules. The only difference is that now the charging cord is detachable, rather than being permanently attached to the brick.

Here’s what’s crazy: according to the article, the rules also apply to the charging cord. If you have a MacBook Pro, you have to use the cord it came with. You can’t use the one that comes with a MacBook.

The best part is that the two cables look identical, so Apple suggests you identify them by searching for the serial number printed on the cable, in the teeniest, tiniest, faintest little letters. It took me about 10 minutes to find it, and I had to zoom in with the iPhone camera to read it. (Apple’s article also says that you can’t use the MacBook Pro cable to charge a MacBook, but that doesn’t make sense, and I suspect it may not be true.)

So, if you have both a MacBook Pro and a MacBook, I’d suggest you mark both the brick and cord (like with the same squiggle or something) for each so that you know they go together.

I’m hoping that since the MacBook Pro came out after the MacBook, this is a temporary situation, and that the next revision of the MacBook will utilize a cable that can be also used with a MacBook Pro. Otherwise, Apple’s gonna be asking for a lot of support calls when Macs aren’t charging correctly.


Erase your iPhone or iPad before giving it away

If you have an old iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch that you want to sell, give away, or recycle, make sure you erase all your data and personal information first. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Reset (all the way at the bottom)
  2. Tap Erase All Content and Settings
  3. Enter your passcode
  4. Confirm the erasure (twice!)
  5. Type your Apple ID password

Then everything is erased off the device — it’s as though you’re taking it out of the box for the first time.

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